Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is This the Right Door?

Apparently while you are training to be a minister it is actually important to practice being a minister.  While I was in seminary each student was expected to complete several semesters of field education.  I remember at the time what a quandry it was.  I had to find something.  It was a requirement of the journey I was on. 

The seminary was situated across the street from the University of Kentucky.  I remember trudging my way across the campus to find UK's Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist Campus Ministry.  I was making a cold call, so to speak.  Because I had such a great experience at my own Wesley Foundation when I was in college, I thought maybe I could volunteer at this one.  Perfect plan, right?  Who would refuse free labor?  And sure enough, when I met with the campus minister, explaining my need for a field education experience as well as my hopes to fulfill it by becoming a part of ministry there, he was very supportive.  I left that office feeling like I checked an important box off my "do this to graduate" list.  My summer was flooded with relief.

Until the fall semester began.

When I showed up for the first meeting, it was obvious that no one had remembered I was supposed to be there.  The only explanation that made sense was that I wasn't. 

What I did not realize at the time was that God was getting ready to open a door for me Himself.  The church where Tim's dad pastored needed a youth pastor.  The position paid $100 a week, as well as milage.  And each weekend that Tim and I traveled to Leitchfield for me to work with the youth, we returned to Lexington with a trunk full of food Tim's mom cooked so that we could eat.  We were so poor those first two years of marriage as I finished seminary.  I am convinced that Nanny and Pop's generous hospitality are what made the difference for us.

I return to that memory often. 

I consider how things might have been, if my own plans had been manifest.  We would have missed out on God's desperately needed provision.  And the ministry lessons I learned while there are priceless.  I just had no way of knowing that God was getting ready to work in my behalf.  I believe the same truth permeates our lives today.  For me it means doing the best I can with the information available.  I believe God honors that.  That He sees us trying to do our best, trying to follow Him the best we can.  I believe that He allows us to do our best and then He shows us HIS best so that we can see the difference.  So I live my life trusting that God's best is able to break into my reality at any moment.  My step of faith is to then relinquish my own ideas and plans to yield to His.  I have to trust that God's mercy is bigger than my attempts to make everything fall into place.  When things get jumbled and bumbled because my best cannot pull us through, I have to trust that God not only can, but will, straighten things out so that His Glory shines through.  And when my heart is mangled and tangled, I have to trust that He can unravel what I've done with good intentions and set things right.

In this uncertain journey called life, the best we can do is to step out in faith, doing what we genuinely believe is the next right thing.  When we do it prayerfully, asking for guidance and provision, we simply have to go with what we got, and then trust God to rearrange when necessary.  I'm trusting Him to do this.  In mercy and love.  Closing doors that need closing, and opening just the right one.

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